Curriculum versus Syllabus: Curriculum Theory and Product Practice

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People in today's society still equate a curriculum with a syllabus. According to Wikipedia, a curriculum is the set of courses and their content offered at a school. Curriculum is prescriptive, and is based on a more general syllabus which merely specifies what topics must be understood and to what level to achieve a particular grade or standard. A syllabus is an outline and summary of topics to be covered in an education. It is descriptive unlike the prescriptive or specific curriculum. Both syllabus and curriculum are often fused, and usually given to each student during the first class session so that the objectives and the means of obtaining them are clear. Where people still associate curriculum with a syllabus, they are likely to limit their development to a consideration of comprehension that they wish to convey.

The Governing Modes of Administrating Education in the Prolific Form

The central modes of telling and managing education are today embedded in the productive form.  Teaching is most often seen as a scientific exercise.  Objectives are planned and drawn then measurements are taken and applied.  Therefore many of the debates about the nationalized curriculum for schools did not so much concern how the curriculum was thought about as to what its objectives and substance might be.  Franklin Bobbitt (1918; 1928) writing has dominated theory and practice. In The Curriculum Bobbitt writes as follows: "The central theory of curriculum is simple".  "Human life, however varied, consists in the performance of specific activities".  Education that prepares for life is one that prepares unquestionably and passably for these detailed behaviors.  Bobbitt felt that the curriculum has to change to the meet the existence of a person and needs of the new mainstream society, students should not be taught what they would never ever use. People should only understand those qualities which were necessary to fulfill their own personal assignments. Education was according to Bobbitt a pre-preparation for life as an adult and not for life as a child. The program of study will then be that series of experiences which family and infancy must have by way of obtaining those objectives. Curriculum theory and practice and this way of thinking were heavily influenced by the progress of administrative logic and practice. 

What Educational Purposes should be Attained?

Another American writer, Ralph W.Tyler headed the evaluation staff of the "Eight-Year Study" (1933-1941), a national program, involving colleges and universities, which addressed narrowness and rigidity in high school curricula. Years after completing his work with the Eight-Year Study, Tyler formalized his thoughts on viewing, analyzing and interpreting the curriculum and instructional program of an educational institution in Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction (1949). Tyler's document and information completely shaped curriculum and instructional design to this day and laid out a really simple structure for delivering and evaluating instruction consisting of four parts that became known as the Tyler Rationale:

What educational purposes should the school seek to attain?

How can learning experiences be selected which are likely to be useful in attaining these objectives?

How can learning experiences be organized for effective instruction?

How can the effectiveness of learning experiences be evaluated?

Why Focus on Curriculum as Product?

Curriculum as a Product refers to the vital economic life changing period - a period when pre-teens to adults enlarge and construct skills, based on their beginning education and training that helps them become helpful members of humanity.  Some of the most instantaneous fiscal considerations of this time in a adolescent person's life include issues related to schooling and professional expansion, redundancy and immobility, and sufficient revenue.  Reviewing the transition is quite complicated because many young people, who begin work while in school, transfer out of their communities, execute informal or not paid work, or are easily disheartened from job search. Moreover, there are numerous pathways for obtaining skills and furthering schooling including different institution wide plans, such as age of essential education, tracking into universal and industrial streams and proper and unofficial mechanisms of skills development. The Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce (1990) presents a all-inclusive area of existence transitions into the challenges of maturity, it focuses on the five major transition faced by adolescence including, knowledge for life, transitioning to work, and exercising nationality.   Edification that prepares for existence is one that prepares for specific behavior. One would only have to go out into the globe and ascertain the specifics of which the interaction consists. The abilities and objectives of the curriculum will move forward and show through these interactions.

Key Issues in the Approach to Theory of Curriculum

There are a quantity of issues with this approach to theory of curriculum and practice. The number one issue is the great importance of the plan that must be assumed.  For example, we might look at a more current classification of curriculum other than previously stated above. Curriculum could be defined as a series of activities designed so that pupils will accomplish so much as possible with certain educational and other schooling ends or objectives according to Grundy (1987). The problem here is that such programs without doubt survive prior to and external of the learning experiences.  This takes a lot of information away from learners. 

People can end up with a small amount of opinion with this learning experience.  They are told what they must be trained and how they will be trained.  The success or failure of both the program and the individual learners is judged on the basis of whether pre-specified changes arise in the conduct of the learner. 

Another issue is the questions around the temperament of objectives.  This model seems to establish measurability.  It implies that behavior can be neutrally, mechanistically measured.  There are noticeable dangers about the uncertainty about what is being measured. 


Curriculum product and development provide ways for evolution from school to work successfully into the country. The results can be long lists of trivial skills or competencies which can lead to focus to curriculum theory and practice. It can alternately lead to an approach to education assessment which can be systematic. Finally, Alvin Toffler (1980), renowned futurist, had this to say about a redefined curriculum: "Nothing should be included in the required curriculum unless it can be strongly justified in terms of the future. If this means scrapping a substantial part of our formal curriculum, so be it."